This year, rural Spain experienced an extreme summer, and its worst drought in decades. However, the drought had an unexpected side-effect, which has proved to be something archaeologists can rejoice over.
Due to the drought, the waterline of a dam has decreased, and hence, a prehistoric stone circle has emerged from the reservoir, news agency Reuters reported.
The prehistoric stone circle is officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal. Popularly called the ‘Spanish Stonehenge’, the circle comprises dozens of megalithic stones believed to date back to 5000 BC.
The monument is now fully exposed in one corner of the Valdecañas reservoir, a reservoir on the Tagus river, in the central province of Caceres, Spain. According to the report, authorities say the water level has dropped to 28 per cent of capacity.
Quoting archaeologist Enrique Cedillo from Madrid’s Complutense University, the report said it is a “surprise” and “rare opportunity” to be able to access it.
History Of The Spanish Stonehenge
German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier discovered the Spanish Stonehenge in 1926. However, in 1963, the area was flooded in a rural development project under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. The stones range in height up to six feet tall, and are normally underwater due to the Valdecañas Reservoir, a civil engineering project spearheaded by Franco in 1963.
The monument has become fully visible only four times since then.
The Spanish Stonehenge is now seen due to the receding waters of the Valdecañas reservoir in the outskirts of El Gordo, Spain.
Dolmens are vertically arranged stones that usually support a flat boulder, and are scattered across Western Europe. However, little is known about who erected these dolmens. Researchers have found human remains in or near dolmens, suggesting the possibility that the structures served as tombs.
According to a report by Artnet News, a dolmen is a prehistoric structure of two or more upright megaliths called menhirs, with a capstone laid on top.
According to the Reuters report, local historical and tourism associations have recommended moving the Guadalperal stones to a museum or someplace dry.
Re-emergence Of The Spanish Stonehenge Likely To Attract Tourists
Ruben Argentas, a person who owns a small boat tours business, said the dolmen emerges and the dolmen tourism begins, according to the report.
Quoting Angel Castaño, president of Raíces de Peralêda, a local cultural association, a report by American-based online magazine Atlas Obscura said this is the first time he has seen the Spanish Stonehenge in full, and it is spectacular because one can appreciate the entire complex for the first time in decades.
According to the Artnet report, the Spanish Stonehenge has mysterious origins, and may have been built in alignment with the summer solstice, as a solar temple. Some of the monument’s stones feature carvings, including a menhir with a curved line. The curved line might represent a snake or a map of the Tagus River.
Drought Has Brought Woes For Farmers
However, the drought is not a matter of delight for local farmers. Jose Manuel Comendador, a local farmer, said there has not been enough rain since the spring, and that there is no water for the livestock and the farmers have to transport it in.
Due to climate change, the Iberian Peninsula in southern Europe is at its driest in 1,200 years. According to a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, winter rains are expected to diminish further.